You need memory for your computer. But how should you choose the right kind? Whether you're upgrading your computer or building a new one, learn now.Step 2
Step 1 If you bought your computer from a manufacturer, use a search engine or go to the manufacturer's site to find the specs on your model. The max RAM found in the specs is likely the max RAM the whole system supports. To find the largest size module the system supports, divide the max supported RAM by the number of slots. Also listed in the specs should be the max speed supported and DDR type (listed as DDR, DDR2, or DDR3). Alternatively, instead of max speed and DDR type, the specs may list something like PC# ####, where the "#" is some number. This is just a different way of representing speed and DDR type, and works equally well in finding the right RAM. If you know the largest supported module, max supported speed, and DDR type, skip to the Tips and Warnings section.
If you're building a new computer, follow the above step, except search for motherboard model specs rather than computer model specs. If you don't know the model, look for it printed on the board.
If you couldn't find your computer's specs, the info wasn't detailed enough, or you have a custom-built computer, go to http://www.gtopala.com/siw-download.html (also in the resources below) and download the freeware SIW. Install and run it. On the left side, under the "Hardware" section, select "Memory."
The "Memory Summary" section on the right side shows the maximum amount of memory that can be installed in the system (listed as "Maximum Capacity"), and below that is the number of memory slots (listed as "Memory Slots"). The "Device Locator" sections tell whether or not memory is installed in that slot. To get the largest size module the motherboard supports, divide the "Maximum Capacity" by "Memory Slots." To get the speed and type, look under the "Device Locator" section, for the listing "Memory Type." Write down the PC#-#### part, where "#" is some number. Also for the listing "Speed," write down the value in parenthesis. For example, in 333 MHz (DDR2 667), write down only the (DDR2 667). You now have the largest supported module, RAM speed, and DDR type. You can use either the PC#-#### or the speed and type when searching for RAM.
In Step 4, you found a supported RAM speed, but it may not be the fastest supported. Just to make sure, look to the left side in SIW. Under the "Hardware" section, select "Motherboard." Using this info, go to the manufacturer's site or do a web search, and see if you can find what maximum RAM speed the motherboard supports.
If you're building a new computer and need to buy RAM, look up the specs on your motherboard to find out what kind of memory it supports.
The RAM you buy should be no larger than the max supported module size, and should match the type and speed supported by the motherboard.
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